Saturday, April 18, 2015

Ramona Forever (1984)

Ramona Forever. Beverly Cleary. 1984. HarperCollins. 208 pages. [Source: Library]

Ramona is growing up quickly--depending on your point of view. If you consider that she was four in 1955, and nine in 1984, then, her childhood is taking forever. But when you're happily rushing through the series, it feels like she's growing up so quickly. Ramona Forever is the seventh book in the series. Ramona is still in third grade, I believe.

"The Rich Uncle" Howie and Willa Jean have a rich uncle coming to stay with them. Will Ramona like Howie's uncle? He doesn't make the best first impression. He teases her about his name. He gives Howie and Willa Jean presents. Not that Ramona wanted a present. But. Since Mrs. Kemp BLAMES Ramona when Willa Jean breaks her present, she wishes that the Uncle had not come at all. Why is it HER FAULT?

"Ramona's Problem" Ramona tells her mother that she doesn't want to go to the Kemps anymore. She HATES going there after school, can't her and Beezus come home instead. They'll be really, really good and responsible...

"Being Good" How well are Ramona and Beezus getting along after school on their own?!

"Picky-Picky" Ramona and Beezus find Picky-Picky dead in the basement. Beezus suspects that their mom might be pregnant, and doesn't want to worry or upset her. They decide to bury the cat in their yard on their own.

"It" Beezus was right. Ramona is going to be a big sister. Their mom is going to have a baby in the summer. Is Ramona excited or not?!

"A Surprise, Sort Of" Aunt Beatrice has a big announcement. And why is she bringing Howie's Uncle to dinner?!

"The Chain of Command" Shopping for wedding clothes. Ramona is a thousand times more excited than Howie. Howie does not want to be a ring bearer.

"The Families Get Together" Wedding planning.

"Ramona Saves the Day" The wedding itself. Ramona, you guessed it, saves the day. This one has a very sitcom feel to it.

"Another Big Event" Is Ramona ready to be a big sister?!

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Friday, April 17, 2015

Ramona Quimby, Age 8 (1981)

Ramona Quimby, Age 8. Beverly Cleary. 1981. HarperCollins. 208 pages. [Source: Library]

I really love the Ramona series, and, Ramona Quimby, Age 8 is one of my favorites. Ramona is in third grade in this book. Her father will be working part-time for the market and going to school again so he can be a teacher.

"The First Day of School" Ramona starts third grade, and meets a boy, Danny, she nicknames Yard Ape. Her teacher is Mrs. Whaley, and, like in previous books, it takes Ramona a while to decide if she likes her new teacher, and, if her new teacher actually likes her too. School can be so tricky!

"At Howie's House" Ramona loves Sustained Silent Reading at school, even though she doesn't like calling it D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything And Read). Can she use this trick at the Kemps house after school to avoid playing with Willa Jean? Perhaps. At least some of the time.

"The Hard-Boiled Egg Fad" Ramona regrets following a new fad when her mom grabs an egg from the wrong shelf to send in her lunch. The fad is hard-boiled eggs, and the raw egg makes a horrible mess. Ramona is angry and embarrassed.

"The Quimbys' Quarrel" Ramona and Beezus complain about eating TONGUE. And the parents decide to punish them.

"The Extra-good Sunday" Beezus and Ramona do not get out of their punishment: cooking a meal for the family. What do Ramona and Beezus know how to cook, or to cook well? It will be an experiment for sure.

"Supernuisance" Ramona gets sick at school and throws up in front of the class. She's so embarrassed.

"The Patient" Her mom stays home to take care of her when she's sick. Ramona gets a homework assignment: a book report.

"The Book Report" Ramona has to read The LEFT BEHIND CAT for a book report, but, she doesn't like it. How to make the review entertaining? How about doing her report like a commercial? This is a funny chapter!

"Rainy Sunday" The Quimbys turn a dismal day--everyone's a bit grumpy--around by going to Whopperburger. Ramona orders from the adult menu for the very first time.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Ramona and Her Mother (1977)

Ramona and Her Mother. Beverly Cleary. 1977. HarperCollins. 224 pages. [Source: Library]

Ramona and Her Mother is the fifth book in the Ramona series by Beverly Cleary. Ramona and Her Father ends with Christmas, Ramona and Her Mother opens with New Year. It's nice, for a change, to get the opportunity to spend a full year with Ramona and the rest of the Quimby family.

"A Present for Willa Jean" The Quimby family hosts a New Year's Day brunch for the neighborhood. While Beezus gets to help serve and host, Ramona's "job" is to entertain Willa Jean. Is Ramona happy about this? Not really! In case you don't remember, Willa Jean is far from Ramona's favorite person. Don't even dream of bringing up any similarities between Ramona and Willa Jean! In this chapter, Ramona gives Willa Jean a box of Kleenex for a present.

"Slacks for Ella Funt" What's the Quimby household like on a Saturday? Well, on this particular Saturday, it's an interesting one. Ramona wants to have a sewing project like Beezus and her mom. She decides that she will make her elephant a pair of pants. Does it go well? Not really. Could she have successfully made a skirt for her elephant? Most likely without any trouble. But stubborn Ramona wanted PANTS. When it doesn't end well, she gets upset, which leads to her doing something very naughty with a tube of toothpaste!
Nobody had to tell Ramona that life was full of disappointments. She already knew. She was disappointed almost every evening because she had to go to bed at eight-thirty and never got to see the end of the eight o'clock movie on television. She had seen many beginnings but no endings. And even though she had outgrown her tricycle, she was still disappointed because she never could find a tricycle license plate with her name printed on it. (40)
As Ramona sat on the hard edge of the tub, feeling sorry for herself and trying to sort out her thoughts, she noticed a brand-new red-white-and-blue tube of toothpaste lying beside the washbasin. How smooth and shiny it looked with only one little dent where someone had squeezed it once. That tube was as good as new, and it was the large economy size. Ramona was suddenly filled with longing. All her life she had wanted to squeeze toothpaste, really squeeze it, not just a little squirt on her toothbrush but a whole tube, a large economy size tube, all at one time just as she had longed to pull out a whole box of Kleenex. I'll give it one little squeeze, thought Ramona. Just one teeny squeeze to make me feel better. She seized the tube. (43)
"Nobody Likes Ramona" Ramona has a bad day at school, and a very bad day at the Kemps after school. Willa Jean won't let Howie and Ramona play checkers. And when Howie and Ramona try to play something else--a big accident happens.

"The Quarrel" The bad day continues for every single member of the Quimby family. It's a HORRIBLE night at home. Ramona and Beezus witness their parents fighting, and, it upsets both of them.

"The Great Hair Argument" Beezus is the star, of sorts, of this chapter. Beezus is getting to be "that age" and a bit difficult for her parents. In this chapter, Beezus is growing out her hair and refusing to let her mom cut it anymore. She wants a REAL hair cut in a real salon by a real stylist. She says all the girls in her class get real hair cuts. Reluctantly, Mrs. Quimby agrees, but, it will be a student stylist. Will Beezus like her new haircut?! Ramona also gets a new haircut in this one.

"Ramona's New Pajamas" Ramona loves, loves, loves her new pajamas. But is it a good idea to wear pajamas under your clothes and go to school?!

"The Telephone Call" Ramona has a fit--though she refrains from yelling guts, guts, guts--and decides to run away from home. Her mom "helps" her pack. Will Ramona really run away?!

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky (2014)

Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky. Sandra Dallas. 2014. Sleeping Bear Press. 216 pages. [Source: Library]

Tomi Itano is the heroine of Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky. Her family is relocated during the war, the spring after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Her father was taken away--imprisoned--before the family was relocated. For Tomi who has always loved, loved, loved being American, this comes as a shock and disappointment. How could anyone not see how patriotic her family is? She adjusts as the whole family is forced to adjust. (The family, I believe, is relocated twice.) Readers meet Tomi, her older brother, her younger brother, and her mother. Readers get a glimpse of what life might have been like day-to-day for these families. The book is about how they all are effected personally and as a family. (It does change the family dynamics in many ways, especially once the father joins them again. For example, he comes home angry and bitter and stubborn. He does not like the fact that the experience has changed his wife, how she works now, how she teaches quilting, how she has a life outside the home.) I liked the book well enough. Part of me wishes, however, that the focus had been on the older brother Roy, or, equally on the older brother. I liked that he had a band. He ended up joining the army, and, his story would have been worth reading too, in my opinion.

Is Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky my *favorite* book on the subject of the Japanese internment (relocation) camps? Probably not. I really love, love, love, Kathryn Fitzmaurice's A Diamond in the Desert. But even though I wouldn't rate it "a" favorite or "the" favorite, doesn't mean it's not worth reading. While both books could appeal to the same reader, that wouldn't always be the case. For example, Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky features quilts.
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Dragon Slippers

Dragon Slippers. Jessica Day George. 2007. Bloomsbury USA. 324 pages. [Source: Library]

I'm so glad I decided to revisit all three books in Jessica Day George's dragon series. I remember loving these when they first came out, but, I just haven't made time for a reread. Until now!

In Dragon Slippers, readers meet Creel, our heroine. Her aunt wants to "sacrifice" her to the local dragon, so that she can be "rescued" by a hero--hopefully a wealthy hero who will fall madly in love with her and want to marry her and support his wife's family. Creel doesn't particularly want to be left outside the dragon's cave to wait and see if a dragon or a hero comes her way. She wants to be a dressmaker. But if waiting for a dragon is the first step to her new life, well, she'll take it.

So she meets a dragon who gifts her--for better or worse--with a pair of shoes--slippers. They are blue; they are beautiful. She then goes on her way to her country's capital--the royal city. She's going to do her best to find a job in the dressmaking district. On her way there she may just meet another dragon, and, this dragon will become one of her best, best friends. His name is Shardas, and, I have to admit I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE him. His hoard is not shoes--like the previous dragon--it is glass, windows to be precise.

Creel's new life has begun. And it is never dull! On her first day in town, she accidentally meets a foreign princess, and a member of the royal family--though a second son--his name is Luka. Luka and Tobin (his bodyguard) help her find a place to stay and a place to work.

I loved this one. It's a great adventure story with humans and dragons. It was just a joy to rediscover this one.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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